When it comes to dining out, my tastes are wide and varied. There are times when I crave a greasy burger and a giant mound of fries, and other times when I’m in the mood for a really decadent, extravagant meal. More often than not, my preference lies right in the middle, and I’m fortunate to live in a great city with a lot of really fantastic dining options that fit the mold.
On the occasions that I do get to have a more upscale meal, I often like to try somewhere new, since those types of dining experiences are few and far between for me. However, one place I have had the pleasure of dining on multiple occasions is Davio’s. I hardly ever try out steak houses, but I was introduced to Davio’s by Kevin’s family, and found that I really liked it. The service staff there is incredibly hospitable, not over the top and never too stuffy, but really just right. I find that they are casual and laid back, while maintaining a very professional, customer-centric demeanor. Each time I’ve visited, I’ve sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen, with the same friendly server and a peek into where the magic happens.
When I had the opportunity to review a copy of Davio’s Chef Steve DiFillippo’s new book, ‘It’s All About The Guest‘, I happily agreed. The book promised some tried and true family recipes, as well as Chef DiFillippo’s secrets to success. What I found when going through the book myself was a true and honest story of how Chef DiFillippo created his success. It was really interesting to read his life story, told with a certain warmth that really drew me in and kept me interested. I found his story relatable, and also admirable, the way he grew from the days of working in family kitchens to being the head of a professional kitchen. The family recipes he shared – a variety of sweet and savory, sides, mains and desserts – are all notches on the comfort food scale, decidedly Italian, and pretty approachable for a home cook.
I decided to share a recipe from the book, a simple tomato soup, which until this attempt was something I’d never made in my own kitchen. I was extra intrigued since this recipe called for the inclusion of an entire loaf of bread – in the soup! – and really wanted to give it a try. I followed the recipe to a T, except that I used a loaf of sourdough bread instead of an Italian bread, because I happened to be up in Portsmouth, NH and drove by When Pigs Fly mere hours before I made this soup. There was a definite hint of warm, yeasty flavor from the bread, which I actually quite enjoyed, but I’m sure a basic loaf of Italian bread would work beautifully.
I found the soup to be super thick and hearty, with a really wonderful, rich flavor. If I had it to do again, I’d probably cut out a bit of the bread, because it was more stew-like than soup-like, but I really enjoyed the flavor. I served this with a grilled cheese on the side, which was definitely a bit heavy in the bread department, but honestly sourdough bread stuffed with cheddar and gruyere, then griddled to perfection? Won’t EVER turn that down, especially next to a giant bowl of herb-garnished thick tomato soup!
If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, I’d highly recommend it. You should definitely check out this Facebook contest, running through this week to promote the launch of this book. I think Chef DiFillipo’s story will resonate with a lot of people, whether you’re in the service industry or not. It’s a wonderful tale of pursuing a passion and finding true success, which is always a motivating and uplifting story. You can check out the book promo here, and if pick up a copy and you’re interested in getting your hands on some additional recipes not included in the book, you can check out this giveaway!
Happy reading, and as always, happy cooking I see another large pot of this soup in my future as the nights continue to get colder!
Davio’s Tomato Soup
3 ounces cubed, unsalted butter
1 large white onion, sliced
2 28-ounce cans San Marano tomatoes (crushed, diced, or whole tomatoes crushed by hand)
1 quart chicken stock
1 loaf Italian bread, cubed
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons julienned basil, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
1.) In a large stockpot, melt unsalted butter over medium heat. Once melted, add sliced onion and continue to cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
2.) Add both cans of tomatoes and their juices, and chicken stock. Let simmer over low-medium heat for one hour.
3.) After simmering for one hour, add cubed Italian bread, and mix to soak bread. Return to simmer for an additional 45 minutes.
4.) Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool. After it’s cooled off a bit (doesn’t have to be completely cool, just not scorching hot), puree the mixture until it’s smooth.
5.) When ready to serve, bring the soup back to a simmer, . Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in 2 tablespoons each basil and parsley. Serve immediately, and garnish with extra basil or parsley, if desired.
** Chef DiFillipo suggests serving with soft goat cheese and chive crostini